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British Library to create British e-mail archive

The British Library is collaborating with Microsoft’s new Windows Live Hotmail service to create the first ever archive of British e-mails.

The "E-mail Britain" campaign, which will run throughout May, asks the British public to make e-mail history by forwarding a memorable or significant e-mail from their sent mail or inbox.

The messages will be included in a digital archive that will be stored at the British Library for future generations.

The library said the E-mail Britain collection of real-life e-mails will provide an important snapshot of British life over e-mail to produce a unique social history catalogue of life and culture in Britain today.

John Tuck, head of British Collections at the British Library, said, “E-mail has in many respects replaced traditional forms of communications such as letters or memoranda, thousands of examples of which we have at the British Library.

Digital archiving of e-mail has never been attempted before on this scale and we are very excited to be capturing such a rich slice of contemporary life,” said Tuck.

Jo Wickremasinghe, Windows Live Hotmail spokesperson, said, “We want to capture the biggest possible cross-section of e-mailing life in the E-mail Britain archive, and we urge people to dig out their best e-mails and pass them on for everyone to enjoy.”

The e-mails are to arranged under the following categories, which should be typed into the subject box of the e-mail: Blunders, Life Changing E-mails, Complaints, Spam, Love and Romance, Humour, Everyday E-mails, News, World Around You, Tales from Abroad.

Microsoft is managing the submission process and will sift out any e-mails deemed to contain unsuitable content.

Contribute to the E-mail Britain archive >>

Mark Oliver blog: are e-mails worth archiving? >>

Comment on this article: computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk


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